In light of youth month, local ICT firms have reiterated their commitment to tackling the rising challenge of unemployment by advancing local youths’ digital economy skills.
South Africa commemorates youth month in June, with this year’s theme titled: “Accelerating collaborations and opportunities to improve the lives of the youth.”
Amid rising unemployment stats, there has been concerted effort from public and private sector bodies to equip young people with ICT skills to compete in the global digital economy.
Smartphone maker Honor says it is targeting more youth to be part of its learnership programme.
During the 12-month learnership, participants receive a blend of theoretical expertise and real-world practice in courses such as business administration, systems development and systems support, says Honor. After finishing the programme, they will be awarded an NQF-accredited certificate.
They also get a chance to work in network provider stores, as well as in Honor’s head office, and receive a monthly stipend.
While there’s no confirmation on how many participants will be part of the next intake, Honor says it is looking to “significantly increase” the number next year.
“We will be looking at working with more NGOs like Kliptown Youth Development in order to expand this programme,” says the company.
“There are growth opportunities for the learners who perform well during their learnership. The new intake of learners will happen in December this year, topping up on the learners that we already have in place.”
Vodacom says its Youth Academy is targeting to train just over 2 000 unemployed youths by the end of the 2023/2024 financial year.
This, according to the mobile operator, is in line with targets to upskill 4 000 young South Africans by 2025 with important ICT skills.
Established in partnership with Cisco, MICT-SETA and the Department of Basic Education, the Youth Academy includes a 12-month programme of training, with the goal being to equip unemployed youth from previously disadvantaged backgrounds with ICT skills.
At the end of the year, there is potential for these graduates to be offered internships and workplace experience.
Vodacom has also started absorbing some of the youth academy graduates into some of its programmes, such as Schools of Excellence and partner NPOs, as paid ICT youth coordinators and training facilitators.
Takalani Netshitenzhe, external affairs director for Vodacom SA, says the Youth Academy aims to develop the skills of people who would otherwise not be able to afford educational opportunities.
“When one considers that this training is offered free of charge but is valued at over R100 000, the impact of the Youth Academy is massive. It really does offer an opportunity for people to transform their lives.”
According to a recent report, the ICT skills gap in South Africa continues to widen, hindering the country’s digital transformation efforts, notes Netshitenzhe. As such, it makes perfect sense to upskill young people so that we have the skills the market needs to help SA compete on a global stage, she states.
“Africa has the youngest population in the world, with 70% of Sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 30, according to the UN. These numbers represent amazing possibilities but only if the youth are given the necessary foundations and the support they need to realise their true potential.
“Our hope is that these graduates will use the ICT skills they’ve acquired to contribute to the economy by seeking employment, and that they will use their learnings to improve their circumstances and the lives of those around them by pursuing further education.
“Finally, we want these graduates to explore entrepreneurial opportunities so that they can one day provide much-needed jobs to others.”
Meanwhile, Honor’s former parent company Huawei says it will be expanding its Women in Techinitiative by focusing on young women.
Called the Huawei Young Women in Tech programme, the course will take place from 21 to 28 June, and is open to all young women who are either currently studying in the ICT field, or who would like to in the future.
According to Huawei, the course will take place online and will cover topics including artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing. The initial training will then be followed by a master class in each of the topics, taking place from 3 to 17 July, and will culminate in final exams to be written in the first week of August.
Successful students will then receive career certification in the relevant course, says the company.
Vanashree Govender, media relations and communications manager at Huawei SA, says: “Following the success of our previous programmes in 2021 and 2022, we felt it was important to expand it to young women.
“Women currently make up just 13% of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects, meaning we all have roles to play when it comes to ensuring the sector is as equitable as possible.”
“It’s a privilege to be in a position to empower young women, especially in a field that’s as traditionally male-dominated as technology,” adds Starleen Mangozho, who is facilitating the cloud computing section of the course.
Anyone wanting to take part in any of the courses can fill in the online application form.